The evidence on retirement

retirementThe other day, a friend who is nearing retirement age stopped me in the gym locker room.  “I want to know what the evidence says,” she told me. “Is retirement going to be good for me?” [Read more…]

What we know — and what we don’t — about standing desks

031030-F-2828D-166 Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld works at the stand-up desk in his office as he goes over his opening remarks prior to a Pentagon press briefing on Oct. 30, 2003. Rumsfeld will give reporters an update on the progress of Operation Iraqi Freedom and take questions during the televised briefing. DoD photo Tech. Sgt. Andy Dunaway, U.S. Air Force. (Released)

If you pay any attention to news stories about health and wellness, you’ve likely read or heard that sitting for long periods of time can harm your health.

There is evidence to suggest that sitting for hours at a time leads to a host of health problems including heart disease, diabetes, bone and joint problems, poor posture, weak muscles and even some types of cancer. [Read more…]

New evidence on the gap between rich and poor

retireeThe founders of our nation set out to create a place where people could build a life for themselves. Their original idea was that U.S. citizens would be free to pursue happiness and prosperity. But more than 200 years later, a body of evidence shows the gap between the rich and the poor is widening. [Read more…]

Is your workplace making you sick?

workersFor a few decades now, major employers across the United States have focused on providing wellness programs that encourage employees to adopt healthy lifestyle habits, such as nutritional eating, exercise and smoking cessation. This is based on the premise  that a healthy workforce will be more productive, and ultimately will help reduce health insurance costs. [Read more…]

The link between working long hours and drinking alcohol

AlcoholI have certainly had times in my life where, at the end of the work day, all I wanted to do was have a few glasses of wine to help me relax. For some people, the ritual of having a drink or two after work becomes a habit that’s hard to break.  A systematic review published recently finds that this sort of habit can lead to unhealthy behaviors. [Read more…]

The evidence on vacations

good-harbor-beach-towardThe cold and snowy winter has inspired my family to take a last-minute, warm-weather vacation. The idea of escaping frigid temperatures to lounge in the sunshine seems like it will lift our spirits. But now that our plane tickets are booked, I’m wondering what the evidence says. [Read more…]

A flexible work schedule: It’s good for you!

Although working a 9 to 5 schedule used to be the norm, more people than ever before are able to choose the hours they’d like to work, at least to some extent. Personally, I have a flexible working schedule, and I find immensely helpful for balancing work and family life. But do flexible schedules make a tangible difference in people’s lives?

According to the evidence, the answer is yes. A systematic review published by the Cochrane Public Health Group found tangible benefits for workers who have choices about and control over their own schedules.

The researchers searched 12 databases and found 10 studies that evaluated the effects of flexible working arrangements on employee health and well-being.

The review found that workers who were able to schedule their own shifts or had the option for partial or early retirement were healthier and reported a stronger sense of community. They fared better on a wide range of health indicators including systolic blood pressure and heart rate, tiredness, mental health, and sleep quality and alertness.

The studies of other working arrangements – including overtime and fixed-term contracts – found no significant effects on physical, mental or general health.

The review concluded, on the whole, that having flexible schedules is likely to have positive effects on the health and wellbeing of workers. That said, the review only included a small number of studies, and many of them had methodological limitations.

While flexible working schedules appear to make a real difference, researchers need to continue studying the topic to find out for sure.

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